Genesis – The middle years. Peter Gabriel left in 1975, and although hey tried out several vocalists they decided that Phil Collins, who had sung a couple of tracks and was backing vocalist to Peter anyway, should take on the role of singer. The first album without Gabriel was ‘A Trick Of The Tail (1976). Gone were the pyrotechnic vocals and a softer voice appeared, but also the strange jumpy styles and a more regular rock sound began to emerge. Not such a bad album and certainly more successful than their last one. Best songs were ‘Squonk’, Robbery, Assault and Battery’ and ‘Dance on A Volcano’. The drumming seems particularly good, and the band seem a bit more together. Maybe because they were both writing the music and the words, whereas Peter used to tend to add words to finished instrumental pieces. Steve Hackett however had already recorded his first solo album (with Rutherford and Banks) in a style more like the old Genesis – a sure sign that he wasn’t totally keen on this new direction. The band followed this with Wind and Wuthering later in ’76. A different feel to this album I thought. There were certainly more instrumentals, and Tony Banks had already written quite a lot of material. Again Steve Hackett felt squeezed out in terms of songwriting, which led to his departure the following year. Saying that, this is still a strong album with some good stuff on it – but already one could feel the band moving away from the Gabriel era long complex songs with strange lyrics into somewhat safer and gentler territory. Best song by far was ‘Your Own Special Way’, but this was hardly the Genesis of old. This was a gentle love song. I have just played the record twice and nothing else really leaps out and says WOW. Another huge tour followed and then a second live album Seconds Out, which I bought at the time and worked my way back to some of the erlier albums I has missed. Well, a pretty faultless live album, excellent versions of fan’s favourites which in some cases are at least as good as the studio ones. Collins sings the old songs pretty well though with a softer edge than Gabriel. The ensemble playing is very good. Best songs ‘Carpet Crawl’, ‘Supper’s ready’ and ‘I Know What I Like’. But as they were mixing the album Steve Hackett announced that he was leaving to pursue a solo career (see H). He had already recorded and released a debut album a year earlier but the band had told him not to record a second, even though most of his suggestions for Wind and Wuthering weren’t take up So, it could not have come as that much of a surprise when he left. Could the band possibly survive the departure of both lead singer and guitarist.
And again, rather than recruit a replacement they just carried on, Mike Rutherford filling in on lead as well as bass. In a way the band became even tighter, though thye had to have extra players for live work. In the studio at least they developed a close working relationship, that eventually led to all three pursuing solo stuff as well as Genesis work – but, the albums slowed down and the style morphed more and more into a highly commercial and pleasant rock sound with fewer surprises but much easier listening songs. The first of which was 1978’s ….and then there were three. Well, a really successful and quite commercial album. The transformation of Genesis from a truly innovative prog-rock outfit to a super-cool rock band was almost complete. Gone were the daft lyrics, the weird time changes, the long meandering songs with several different melodies. In came smooth and shorter songs, more standard sounding production and success – even a hit single; ‘Follow You, Follow Me’. But somehow they were still Genesis, only a slightly different Genesis.